Chow Bella

Vovomeena in Phoenix Offers Good Vibes — But Skip the Blackstone Scramble

Where: Vovomeena
Tuesday-Friday 6:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., Saturday and Sunday 7:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.
Dish: Blackstone Scramble
Price: $11.87 (including tax and tip)

The Setting: Nestled among a handful of other restaurants and stores in the plaza at 1515 N. 7th Avenue, Vovomeena is a comfortable urban breakfast and lunch spot. One long wall is lined with what look like bare two-by-fours and Vovomeena's cold brew coffee drips through beautiful three-tiered glass containers with curling coil. Rows of "Mornin' Moonshine" cold brew coffee jars line the ordering counter, which is separated from the nearby tables with a bare rope partition.  The kitchen is open concept, giving diners a view as they wait to order.

The sister restaurant of Tuck Shop and Mornin' Moonshine Coffee Shop, Vovomeena has diners order at the counter before choosing a seat at one of the many tables inside or on the patio. The patio is cozy, but feels clean and bright compared to the interior.  Sitting outside on an unusually comfortable Phoenix morning, we nearly forgot we were dining next to a parking lot thanks to the waist-high planters, umbrellas, and greenery.  During our visit, the staff at Vovomeena was friendly, though not particularly warm. 

The Food: 
The menu at Vovomeena is diverse and interesting.  Given the pleasant atmosphere, we'd return to try the Pain Perdu—banana bread pudding french toast with whiskey caramel and choice of meat or potatoes ($9.50)— or the b.m.o.c— a "massive" smoked pork chop served with a waffle, two eggs, a Portuguese doughnut and apple maple syrup ($12.95).

During this visit we ordered the first item on the menu, the Blackstone Scramble—a "fry up" of pork shoulder, peppers, tomato, garlic, onion and two eggs, served with a slice of multigrain toast. 

The Good: The pork shoulder in the Blackstone Scramble was delightful—chewy, salty, smokey, and perfectly cut.  The strips of salty pork shoulder were abundant, and some were tinged with nearly-black pan marks that added a hint of smokiness to the dish. The pork itself was chewy but the strips were cut to just the right size.  We found ourselves picking through the scramble to finish the meat even after we were full. 

The Bad: Besides the pork shoulder, the scramble was not great. The peppers, tomatoes, and onions were overcooked, and reminded us of the "peppers" part of cheap sausage and peppers—mushy and falling apart, but still recognizable.  It seemed like the vegetables had been precooked and then added to the scramble. Many of the red pepper skins had separated from the pepper flesh and the tomatoes were nearly impossible to find (maybe because both the tomatoes and peppers were so cooked down that their flavors were too light, or maybe because there weren't many tomatoes in the dish).  

The eggs played more of a supporting role, acting merely as the glue that held the other ingredients together. They were cooked in a way that made the egg curdles very, very small, which made the dish seem more like dining hall food and less like something you'd expect from a restaurant.  Rather than sinking our teeth into bites of egg, the egg clung to the other ingredients in the dish, almost as if it was an afterthought.  Perhaps because there was such a disproportionate egg to veggies and pork ratio, the egg itself was almost wet, which made for an unpleasant texture and appearance.

Between the limp vegetables and the wet, mushy eggs, this was not a dish we wanted to finish.  Although advertised as a scramble, it was more akin to a chunky, egg-glued hash. The moisture from the overcooked veggies blended with the eggs in an unappetizing way and we dug through both to get to the pork.  

All in All: Because the pork shoulder was such a standout, we'd come back to try one of the other dishes at Vovomeena. The atmosphere and seat-yourself structure make it an ideal place to eat and hang out for a while, provided the other dishes on the menu take after the pork shoulder and not the rest of the Blackstone Scramble.  
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